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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

SUV Comparison 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

With more hybrid options entering the compact crossover segment, we test the hybrid versions of these two popular models

A few years ago, this wouldn’t have registered as big news. Batteries made hybrids much more expensive, and their drive feel seemed like too much of a compromise to be worth the extra coin. Today, those barriers have largely been lifted, and making the switch to hybrid technology comes with ever-fewer drawbacks

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

Take the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid for example. Since Toyota first brought the built-in-Ontario second-generation RAV4 Hybrid to market a couple of years ago, it’s offered a superior drive experience for roughly $2,000 more on average than gas-only models. That’s a gap that an owner can reasonably expect to make up over the life of a vehicle with the hybrid’s better fuel efficiency, which is probably why it’s so popular with reported delivery wait times of six months or more

The XSE grade tested here — a sport-oriented model exclusively available as a hybrid — costs $41,750 as tested before the $1,815 freight and PDI, and its 163 lb-ft 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine combines with an 88 kW electric motor for a total system output of 219 hp. Until recently, there wasn’t much point in digging too deeply into these figures because the RAV4 Hybrid was an outlier in the segment anyway. But now, a new — or rather, a returning — challenger arrives on the green scene

Ford Escape Hybrid returns to 2020 after an absence of eight years to add another hybrid option in the crossover segment, with an additional hybrid to be followed soon. In those eight lost years, Ford pinned its hybrid and electric hopes on D-dorky d-dorky, a plan that hatefully failed, and at the expense of the incredibly larger size of the famous escape and continued credibility of Ford in eco-friendly circles. North Americans may love luxury European brands, but they definitely don't have the taste for their young people who are moving around in body styles

This hybrid is a return to the green credibility of the Ford Escape, and in this test we have a titanium resonance model at a price of $ 38,049 with a premium package (panoramic sunroof, 110-volt power outlet, and vertical display) plus another addition - for up to $ 41,299 Almost US $ plus destination fee of $ 1,850

Power for the Escape Hybrid comes from a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine combined with an 88 kW electric motor — no, that’s not a copy/paste error, Toyota and Ford arrived at an eerily similar powertrain configuration. Ford is down on power compared to the RAV4, listing just 200 net hp and 155 lb.-ft. of torque, but it did not feel inadequate when it was time to put your foot down and merge with highway traffic. If anything, the Escape Hybrid might have a bit better throttle response, and it definitely has significantly less weight, tipping the scales at just 1,612 kilograms compared to the RAV4’s 1,703

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

One thing I really liked about the Escape Hybrid was the driving coach in the gauge cluster, which showed you how much more throttle you could apply to keep it in EV mode with the engine shut off. However, when that engine did kick in, it was with a bit of a lurch and loud grumble, so we expected better of Ford in 2020. The RAV4 was much smoother and quieter when the gas engine comes online, and although the acceleration of the Escape was sufficient, the RAV4 had a little more to give and also seemed a little more effortless both in its acceleration and its handling. Where the Escape tends to be little rougher over broken pavement and bumps in the road, the RAV4 is more poised, absorbing impacts more soothly and quietly, its steering more accurate and feeling more controlled in corners and curves

The weight advantage of the Escape also contributes to a slightly better fuel consumption rating, officially listed at 5.4 L/100 km in the city 6.2 on the highway, and 5.8 combined, while the heavier, more powerful RAV4 is just a tick behind at 5.7 / 6.3 / 6.0, respectively. In real world driving, the Escape landed just a little below 6, and the RAV4 just a bit over, so it was too close to say that one had a discernible advantage

Fuel efficiency is important, and especially so in this face-off, but it’s not everything, and cargo space can be a factor that makes or breaks a purchase decision for a lot of families. The dimensions of the RAV4 are slightly larger overall, but it’s in cargo area where the differences are the most evident. While the Escape clocks in at 974 litres behind the second-row seats, the RAV4 fits 1,059 litres — not a huge gap on paper, but it was enough for us to be able to fit nearly a full hockey bag extra. Drop those second-row seats and you’ll find 1,851.9 litres of space in the Escape but over 100 litres more in the RAV4 for a total of 1,977 litres

Going back to the published specifications, the Escape claims more headroom in both rows — 1,016 mm and 998 mm respectively, versus a flat 958 mm in the RAV4 — a difference we suspect may be due to the panoramic sunroof, an option that’s not available in the latter. The Escape also claims more leg room at 1,077 mm in the front and 1,034 mm in the rear, as opposed to the RAV4’s 1,042 and 960 mm. But we agree that these figures don’t reflect our real-life observation that the RAV4 feels like the larger and roomier of the two

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

And it keeps getting better the farther forward you go in the RAV4, with a pair of truly hospitable front seats. The driver and front passenger seats are nicely bolstered and contoured, covered in synthetic leather and stitched in contrasting blue thread for a bit of a wow factor in terms of appearance. The bolsters aren’t too aggressive, so it’s still accommodating of wider bodies like mine, and does a better job of holding you in place in corners. The Escape’s seats aren’t objectionable or uncomfortable, but they don’t impress much either. They also feature contrasting stitching (white, in this case) and are lightly bolstered, though they are flatter and plainer